Do Nobel Prize Winners Cut Back on Research? New Study Reveals Surprising Trend

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Tend to Cut Back on Research, Study Says

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine tend to cut back on their research results after receiving the prestigious award, according to a new study.

Receiving a Prize is Not Desirable for Productivity

This indicates that receiving a prize is not very desirable for those who wish to remain productive.

Study Analyzes Nobel Prize Winners’ Performance

Analyzing data on Nobel Prize winners from 1950 to 2009, researchers at Stanford University in California and the University of Waterloo in Canada looked at three metrics: the number of papers published, the novelty of those papers (how new the ideas were), and the number of citations in other papers.

The researchers compared these data with data from people of the same age who received the Lasker Prize, another highly respected award in the medical sciences. They made the comparison to minimize the risk that people’s age would affect the results. Nobel Prizes are often awarded to people late when they should be working less anyway.

Nobel Laureates’ Performance Declines

In all three dimensions, the Nobel laureates scored higher than the Lasker laureates before receiving the prize, and then the trend reversed. After the Nobel Prize, scientists sank to the same level or even lower than those who received the Lasker Prize.

“These cuts may reflect the reward’s transformative effects, altered incentives, or fundamentally different career paths for Nobel Prize-winning medical researchers,” the researchers write in their paper.

Lasker Prize Winners’ Performance Comparison

Lasker Prize winners also experienced a drop in performance after they were officially recognized, but not as much as those who won the Nobel Prize. On average, over the 10 years since their victory, Lasker Prize winners have published more research each year than Nobel Prize winners.

Implications and Discussion

Although the analysis of the data is not detailed enough to prove cause and effect, it shows an interesting pattern. While this does not mean that these Nobel laureates have put their feet up and calmed down, there may be a discussion about how the status of laureates and the impact on research have changed.

The Nobel Prize, established by Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901, undoubtedly raises the profile of science and encourages young scientists. The question here is whether this could also cause a decline in the quantity and quality of innovative, high-quality research.

This is a very difficult challenge, not least because it is difficult to identify the advantages and disadvantages correctly. One of the ideas put forward by the team behind this new research is to reward scientists at the start of their careers with a Nobel Prize or some other honor.

Study Publication

The National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper on the study, although it was not peer-reviewed.

Source: Science Alert

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